As we pass another year where trans issues seem to be even more prominent and discussed (for good or bad) in the media, I often find myself wondering what my responsibility is as a crossdresser and a part of this wider community. I'm acutely aware that in my country I am very much in a privileged position. That position was achieved for me and on my behalf by braver and more pioneering men and women who fought for visibility and acceptance at a time when I was still struggling with my internal fears.
So what then is my role?
How am I supposed to make a difference and what am I supposed to do to further this argument and debate? How am I going to contribute to this discussion and to making the world a better place for those who will come after me?
As I get older, these kind of questions weigh more on my mind as I think about legacy and what we will leave behind us. The question of responsibility and our individual contributions to a better world is one that can easily be forgotten in the pursuit of our daily lives and in my case this has certainly been the case, particularly in my youth.
Today I make videos about crossdressing. This is my small attempt to add my voice to those that have already spoken on my behalf and to present myself to the world. I try to add my thoughts to the debate and as much as possible to talk about some 'normal' stuff as well. Essentially to present the things I like as a person who happens to crossdress.
I've now reached a point where I feel pretty comfortable with this and so I'm wondering whether I should go further?
What more can I do?
For the last 3 years I have used Transgender Day of Visibility to challenge myself. Even if only in a very limited way I have tried to do something that makes me more visible and makes it easier to understand who I am and how I live my life.
This year I have chosen to post pictures on social media of myself without a wig. I know! What a massive step! All joking aside, many of us have agreements and understandings with loved ones, relatives, friends etc. who don't want people to make the link between our crossdressing side and our daily lives.
If you're like me then you don't live your life openly as 'trans' or any part of that community. We protect our privacy and our private lives and guard against any intrusions. We may do this for personal reasons or we may do this to protect others. Whatever my reasons for hiding this in the past, I know that deep down I want people to accept me for who and what I am and that will never happen unless I push myself out of my comfort zone and make progress.
What more can we do?
What you do to be more visible and challenge yourself is entirely your decision. It took me over 20 years to get to the point where I felt comfortable enough to post pictures online so I fully understand the hesitation and fear. I'm nowhere near the point where I will post 'before and after' pictures because there are certain young people in my life that I want to tell in my own time. Until I've done that, I reserve the right to keep these lives separate.
One thing that we can do as individuals is to love and accept ourselves internally and project that vision into our daily lives. My original, natural instinct as a secret crossdresser was to avoid any discussion of trans issues in my daily life. If the subject came up I felt exposed and under scrutiny. I tried to avoid giving any suggestion that I was informed about trans issues, which is far too easily interpreted as at best, apathy and at worst, antipathy. I've never been critical of the trans community as a male and in conversations with friends but I know I've missed opportunities in the past to stand up for my community and defend our lifestyle.
Today I make a conscious effort to represent my community at all times. Either as a crossdresser in posts like this or as a supporter in my daily, male life. It's taken time and a lot of practice but I'm now quite comfortable to be seen in all circumstances as a firm supporter of the trans community. I'm ashamed to say that I've not been as supportive as I could have been in the past.
I will keep looking for ways to challenge myself and to stand up for the community I am a part of. This year I've removed the wig, who knows what next year will bring?